ThermalTake V1 CPU Cooler Review
If your looking for a high end air cooler that performs abnormally well, even when compared to some of the lower end liquid cooling systems, look no further. I bought this mostly for the looks, and because I absolutely wanted something from Thermaltake, but I got way more than what I expected. The all copper V shapped heatpipe design, coupled with a stylish yet efficient fan that can push up to 86 CFM is the way to go for Thermaltake: the result is a silent and powerful cooler.
Considering the fragility of the heat sink fins which are very thin for greater surface area, Thermaltake did a nice job of packing this cooler. Inside the cardboard box, the plastic clamshell holds the V1 and it's accessories very well, maybe even a little too well: I had to tug at the base of the cooler to get it out, and seeing the fragility of the fins, I had to be very careful. The contents of the box were the following:
- 1 cooler
- 1 set of LGA775 mount fixtures
- 1 set of socket AM2, 939 and 754 mounts
- 4 ever so tiny mount screws. They should have included more, those things can be lots too easily.
- Bag 'o' thermal compound, the crappy kind. Through it to the bin or feed it to your dogs or something.
Although at first glance the V1 looks perfect, a few minor defects, most of them having little to no impact on product performance. The biggest one is the use of something that looks like thermal adhesive to join the heapipes and the fins instead of soldering the two together. This sounds like a horrible ripoff when you first hear it, but just thinking about it a bit more will clarify things: soldering the 4 heatpipes to all 110 + fins would have skyrocketed the production prices, and resulted in a cooler than nobody can afford. In my opinion, we really can't blame Thermaltake for letting go on something like this. The second little fault is the quality of the base's contact surface. Us overclockers, when shopping for a cooler, look mainly for a quality base, dense and machine to perfection. Although Thermaltake's product page says the V1 has a "mirror coating base", what I got wasn't exactly that: the surface was a tad unequal, and milling marks were pretty clear. Still, considering that I have not yet to this day seen a cooler with a perfect base out of the box, it isn't bad. If you want a perfect base, grab a 5$ sanding kit and lap it yourself.
Installation was quick and painless. The LGA775 push-pin mounts that I have used fit just like the Intel stock cooler on my motherboard, contact between base and CPU is superb. Although I can't recall the amount of sleepless nights I've spent wondering if the V1 would fit my case, I can now confirm that this cooler does fit the EVGA 680i SE SLI in a Thermaltake Armor Jr. with no interference from either the power supply up above of the abnormally high northbridge cooler right below. This cooler is a big one, so don't be thinking that you could be stuffing this in a Micro-ATX case. I would say that 85 % of mid tower can potentially house this cooler, the other deterministic factor being the position of the CPU on your motherboard, which shouldn't a problem in most cases, and even less if you have one of those almost center-mounted CPU DFI boards. I've seen some people run out of space in smaller cases and mount it so that the air is shot up, but I think that it just defeats the purpose of having a flow-through cooler.
During all the tests, the conditions were the following: 20 C ambient temperature, in my basement. I define Idle as 0% CPU usage with the only thing running being the OS desktop. Full load is 100% CPU usage, attained with the Gromacs test of Orthos dual core edition. The test rig is my Thermaltake Armor Jr, with EVGA 680i SE SLI, Core 2 Duo e6750 G0 stepping, 2 gigs of Corsair XMS2-PC2-6400C4, and an EVGA 8800 GTS SC 320 mb.
First, the stock Intel cooler. I installed the cooler with it's stock thermal wax (?), and all temperatures were taken with 100 % fan speed.
Stock clocks, idle: 40 C Stock clocks, load: 67 C 3.2 ghz @ 1.4 Vcore, idle: 43 C 3.2 ghz @ 1.4 Vcore, load: 69 C
Now, the same rig, but outfitted with the V1 and a super slick application of Arctic Silver 5. All temperatures were recored with the cooler at minimum speed. I would have love to try it out at higher speeds, but unfortunately due to a bad fan configuration (high pressure between V1 and extract fan caused by insufficient extraction fan), I only got higher temperatures from increasing the fan speed. Remember, the V1 pushes some 90 CFM at top speed, so a 50 CFM fan just can't hold up.
Stock clocks, idle: 28 C Stock clocks, load: 52 C 3.2 ghz @ 1.4 Vcore, idle: 30 C 3.2 ghz @ 1.4 Vcore, load: 56 C
Considering the less than perfect case fan setup, the 13 degrees drop at full load is something that I think is very good, specially at minimum speed.
- Check your airflow before buying this. You should have more CFM going out than in, and if you current setup doesn't, you should be considering the purchase of high speed case fans, with high CFM output. This will avoid creating that same situation that I am in, with the high pressure between V1 and case fan. Good case fans include Thermaltake Smart Case Fan (~100 CFM at full speed), Yate Loons, and Panaflows.
- Always manipulate the cooler by holding the heatpipes or the base. Even a slight pressure from the fingers is enough to ben the fins near the top.
- Always use a high quality thermal compound. The chain is only as strong as the weakest link, and don't let your TIC be that link. Artic Silver 5 is the most popular choice, at 10$ per tube of 3.5 grams. If you're feeling rich, you might want to check out Shin-Etsu, the ultra thick, high performance compound, which sells for about 10$ also, but for a 1 gram tube: almost 3 times as expensive. Apparently, from the dudes back OCN, it's worth it.
- Thespeed controller that comes with the cooler is too small, not mountable in any kind of way, and just generally bad. How do you want to control your cooler speed when you case is closed? It's just impractical. To be able to control the V1 on a closed case, I paid a visit to a local electronics store and showed the guy the stock speed controller, which can be removed from the cooler without cutting anything up anything. The dude gave me a pot which could do the same thing, and most importantly that could be mounted on my case. 2$ for the pot and a knob, then 5 minutes of drilling, soldering and mounting, and I had a practical way to control the V1's speed. Pictures here!
What more is there to be said? Sure, if you want to save a couple of additional degrees, you might want to go with the super coolers like the Tuniq Tower, or also from Thermaltake the Big Typhoon, but if you want a nice balance of style and performance, the V1 is for you. At 70$, it isn’t cheap, but compare it to the lower end water cooling systems, both price wise and performance wise and it becomes much appealing.